The outpouring of sympathy for Billy Graham, including yesterday’s unusual Laying-in-State in the U.S. Capitol to honor him, was particularly offensive to the LGBTQ community, whom Graham castigated throughout his long ministry.
Gays have no reason not to be glad that the world is rid of one more homophobe. This was a man who spent decades ridiculing gays, stirring up resentment against them among his often unstable followers, and providing government and the courts with the religious justification to discriminate against gay people and deny them their freedom.
Among the hate speech Graham spewed were such tidbits as “Homosexuality is an ungodly spirit of self-gratification” and “We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare. Your affection for another of your own sex is misdirected and will be judged by God’s holy standards.”
Another tidbit, this one thrown onto the dead bodies of tens of thousands of Americans: “Is AIDS a judgment of God? I could not say for sure, but I think so.”
He was a strong advocate of “gay conversion therapy,” the highly controversial practice that many gays denounce as a form of psychological torture. Then there was the famous “Graham Rule,” also known as “the Pence Rule,” which advocates that “men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, as a way of preventing infidelity or even the appearance of evil.”
Yes, because, as we all know, heterosexual Christian men, like Donald Trump and Billy Graham, can’t be trusted not to molest women if given the opportunity to do so!
I feel sorry for anyone who praises an individual whose mind was so psychologically aberrant and morally bereft, who issued such divisive and insulting jeremiads against millions of decent Americans. I expect the likes of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to utter such stupidities as “Here lies America’s pastor” and “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead.” I expect rightwing bigots like Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, Wilbur Ross and Rick Perry to “salute Graham’s coffin.”
But Democrats? Why the hell was Chuck Schumer there, bowing his head for this hater?
Bill Clinton? He was reported to have traveled to Charlotte, NC, “to pay his respects.” Respects for what? Crushing the civil rights of law-abiding American citizens? This does not redound to Clinton’s reputation, especially after he ushered in the unconstitutional “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “Defense of Marriage” policies that even a conservative Republican Supreme Court could not stomach. At least Barack Obama had the good sense to avoid going to any of the memorial services, although Obama did kiss the Graham ring back in 2010. Of course, Obama’s snub of the recent services only fueled the latest round of Obama Derangement Syndrome from so-called “Christians.” The Christian News Service (“The Right News. Right Now”) reported the story, which resulted in scores of hate-filled screeds: “That says a lot about Obama doesn’t it?”, “Demons always turn and run at the very mention of the Name of Jesus”, “Does not surprise me because He’s a lying Muslim and he is finaly [sic] showing his true deceitful colours”, “He’d attend a memorial service for some two-bit thug”, “Now if it was Farrakan or Jeremiah Wright…”.
These are the fruits of Graham’s (and Trump’s, and the Republican Party’s) efforts to degrade, denigrate and denounce gays, Muslims and America’s first black president. This is the evil blossom that has grown from Graham’s polluted seed. Nobody should go to a Billy Graham memorial service without wearing a white sheet and saluting a burning cross. The man was as hateful a public figure as any this country has ever produced (and his son, Franklin, is worse); to have Billy Graham lay in state in the U.S. Capital is a disgrace. He was the poster child for the ignorant, rabble-rousing white “Christian” who wants a return to the good old days when blacks weren’t allowed to vote, women were chattel, and gays were murdered.
I hope, with the death of this mean-spirited bigot, that America has inched towards a brighter, more equal and inclusive future for all people.